'I Was All Kinds of Upside Down': My Recovery from PTSD
Nick Goldsmith is a former Royal Marine Commando who was eventually medically discharged with PTSD
In his book Rewild Your Mind, he shares ways that you can connect with nature to be happier, healthier and more at peace
I can pinpoint when everything went “wrong” to an ambush during an operational deployment in 2008 when I was a Royal Marine Commando. There were times after that, when I found myself in a very, very dark space. If I’m honest, I've never felt the same since that singular point in time.
Getting into the Royal Navy recovery centre happened some six or seven years after the ambush; I spent nearly four years there and was discharged in 2018 with a diagnosis of Complex PTSD. Then I went through that final piece of transition back into the civilian world.
To this point, my recovery has been a journey of some 12 years. And I'm still on that journey. I fully admit that I'm not the complete, finished article. And I'm OK with that. I'm not interested in destinations. I'm about the journey and helping others onto their path to recovery.
Healing, from anything, is neither an easy nor comfortable thing, but anything worth achieving generally isn't easy to obtain. It's going to involve work, and it's going to involve challenges, and it's going to involve some personal hard yards. But I can say, hand on heart, that it's worth it.
The truth is, we are living in a world where anxiety and depression are at higher levels than they’ve ever been. So something needs to change. And could it be, as I found, that the answer is right under our noses and it's just outdoors?
I think the point where I noticed that the outdoors was holding me together, was at my lowest when I was spending time in the Naval Recovery Service Centre.
I was all kinds of upside down. I would wake up every single day with tinnitus, ringing in both ears, already feeling as if the world was coming straight at me. I was overwhelmed before I'd even put one foot out of bed; completely done.
And so while I was obliged to stay on the military base to engage with mental health practitioners and the program they had down there, every waking moment that I wasn't on the base, I was in a little patch of woodland in Somerset, nourishing my soul around the campfire and asking myself the deeper questions.
For me, there's no better environment than the outdoors. It made a difference & was key to recovery. It taught me to embrace and enjoy the moment. To put the past and future aside and just be.
In our fast-paced world, where we are constantly chasing the next best thing, we can all too often quite literally miss the beauty that's right under our noses.
We take so much for granted but if you get out there enough, you’ll start to appreciate the small things which will then transpire into everything we do in life.
Getting out of bed in the morning and getting straight outside for a walk, is my absolute non-negotiable daily habit to get my senses popping, and to prep for the day ahead. I come home from that morning headspace walk each day, whatever the weather, feeling productive & ready to embrace the day.
My whole chemistry has changed because I now wake up just as our ancestors did, to live the most natural version of my life.
Rewild Your Mind is a culmination of the journey I've been on. It's a coming together of all of the work we've done thus far. It's a book that you can pick up, open a page and whatever section you're on, take it on board and be able to readily go and apply it, or use it somewhere.
It's a guide for people, wherever they are, to use the outdoors to help themselves. There's something for everyone in the book. And that's why I wrote it; specifically, so that everybody could have access to the outdoors.
Nick Goldsmith is the author of Rewild Your Mind: Use nature as your guide to a happier, healthier life